When somebody says your workout will combine a bit of darkness with enlightenment, the intrigue settles in – especially when they’re talking about a yoga class. Replace a candlelit room and the gentle sounds of nature with death metal, mohawks and tattoos and you have heavy metal yoga.
Gymbox in partnership with StubHub, launch their heavy metal yoga classes this month, promising exercise with more downward doom. For the spiritual yogis out there it probably sounds more like hell than heaven but there’s a particular kind of release related to heavy metal that resonates with the non-traditional yoga-goers among us. And in this class, it all starts with some Iron Maiden.
With a spiked up mohawk and heavily inked skin, yoga instructor Ben Harrison starts off the class feeling like you’re about to unleash a rock god and somehow still feel zen doing it. Where possible, the class captures what would normally happen at a rock concert, so a back bend becomes a stage dive, a plank turns into crowd surfing, neck stretches are moshing and during the warrior pose you let out some air guitar. This is all done with your hands in ‘horns’, the classic symbol of rock. Ben says the concept encourages everyone to move their bodies while thinking about exercise in a different way, ‘heavy metal yoga is a fun, high energy yoga asana practice that allows for a full body and mind work out. The connection to the breath and the focus required for balance and alignment in the poses strengthens the prefrontal cortex and tones the vagus nerve.’
Any yoga, metal or not, is aimed to make you feel happier, more grounded and gives your body the stimulation it needs. So to separate this class from any other yoga experience, it would’ve been more authentic to have maxed out the volume for more in-your-face music, added some dimmed coloured lights and thrown in a smoke machine if we’re going to go full metal. I went in hoping to transform into a yogified version of Black Sabbath and come out howling to Satan but in this case, not quite. In saying that, it’s a hard class not to enjoy and leave with a greater appreciation for rock.
It’s a gimmick that should draw in a different crowd as it finds the fun in your everyday workout. After all, completely letting your body succumb to the music of a metal concert feels similar to blissing out in a yoga class. It’s all about letting your body move that way it wants to, releasing some tension and letting off some steam. This class ticks all the boxes with Ben saying the benefits to this type of yoga are endless, ‘heavy metal yoga encourages an increase in functional strength, muscular endurance, balance, aerobic capacity, mobility and flexibility. It’s a total unique experience on the mat.’
StubHub has teamed up with Gymbox to launch Heavy Metal Yoga to help rock music fans get gig ready this summer. This unique 45-minute class will run at 8am every Friday for six weeks starting on Friday 21st April at Gymbox in Bank, London.